Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

So I was re-watching Warehouse 13 for the umpteenth time and I was like, "You know what? I actually don't think I've read anything by good ol' H.G. Wells." He's one of those authors who is so well-talked about in school that you can kind of gather the basic plot information of his works without actually having to read them.

So I started reading The Time Machine, and it was pretty surreal. Actually, what was really surreal was watching the H.G. character on Warehouse on the right while reading the real H.G.'s work on the left. Of course, the real H.G. wasn't a female ex-federal agent wakened after a century imprisoned in bronze. But it was still pretty cool. I was about halfway into the book when the time machine episode started. Radical.

If you haven't read the book, or aren't able to guess the plot from the title, I guess I should give you the low-down. It's about an inventor who is recounting his first foray into time travel to some of his skeptic contemporaries. He builds a time machine (off of some seriously shaky scientific theories) and just zips off one day.
"I suppose a suicide who holds a pistol to his skull feels much the same wonder at what will come next as I felt then."
He's travels forward to the year 802000-something, into a world where humans have evolved into two different kinds of beings. One group is beautiful and fragile, stupid and useless--like cattle--and the other is fighting for survival underground. To an extent, this is your typical dystopian novel in that he at first believes he has come to an enlightened utopia, but realizes it's as real a world as our own, with some similar problems.
"It is a law of nature we overlook, that intellectual versatility is the compensation for change, danger, and trouble."
As he tells his tale, the time traveller perceives, comments on and theorizes about everything from the social structure to evolutionary behaviors to the eradication of differences between the sexes. This was perhaps one of the things I was most surprised about--that someone would write such radical ideas of what could be at such an early point in time (1890s). Some of his ideas are progressive or far-fetched even by today's standards. Only a few are clearly products of his time.

Although I'm not a big fan of sci-fi, this was enjoyable to read and intriguing. As an older novella, it can't quite be pigeon-holed into a certain style of writing--it's uniquely, almost freshly Wellsian--so I feel like it's accessible to more people than just those who like classic sci-fi. Also, now I can rewatch Warehouse 13 episodes and totally get the references.


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